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2/8/2006
05:09 PM
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Vendors Roll Out Multimedia Search At Demo Conference

Vendors including America Online and Yahoo demonstrated new technologies for searching and organizing audio, video, and photos.

Search and personalization technologies dominated the Wednesday morning session of the Demo conference.

The majority of the 22 six-minute presentations during the morning session at the Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, focused on consumer-oriented products and services, in keeping with conference organizer Chris Shipley's observation on Tuesday that "The distinction between consumer and business is fading and it's fading very quickly."

What isn’t fading is information overload. But at least the companies pushing search services claim to have a way to better organize the wealth of information computer users have to deal with and to improve relevance through filtering. "If you can help consumers find it, you can monetize it." That's what Drew Lanham, SVP of media for Nexidia, an audio search technology company, said during his company's presentation. It is no doubt a belief held by the rest of the search-oriented startups at the conference.

Nexidia demonstrated its audio search engine that recognizes phonemes, the basic building blocks of sound, to identify words in audio and video files. Its system is impressive because it doesn't rely on searching audio transcripts, as do text-dependent approaches to audio search. The company plans to license its technology, which is already used by the defense and intelligence community.

AOL and Yahoo both put in an appearance. AOL demonstrated the video search technology it acquired through its purchase of a startup called Truveo. It proved quite capable of locating video content, thanks to its ability to ferret out metadata and contextual information not typically associated with video files.

Yahoo product manager Will Aldrich demonstrated his company's next iteration of its online photo sharing service, Yahoo Photos. The new version now uses AJAX, which stands for "Asynchronous JavaScript and XML" and refers to various programming technologies employed to make browser-based services feel like desktop applications. AJAX accounts for the liveliness of services such as Google Mail and Google Maps.

Yahoo's using AJAX for Yahoo Photos now feels a lot like Apple's iPhoto application in the way it allows users to drag and drop photos and edit names. The new version of Yahoo Photos also adds the ability to tag photos and to automatically create albums by grouping specific tags.

The service is not a replacement for Yahoo's Flickr, which appeals mainly to tech-savvy users. Rather, Yahoo Photos aims to make photo sharing easier for the masses.

Kosmix showed off a promising search technology that automates categorization, making it possible to construct vertical, or category-specific, searches by algorithm rather than by design. The presenters showed off their search engine's ability to return results categorized by political worldview: liberal, conservative, or libertarian.

There were however a number of products of interest to businesses. NewsGator showed off its hosted solution to integrate RSS, audio, video into commercial and enterprise sites. It announced that the San Francisco Chronicle's online site, SFGate.com, had just deployed the technology. SimpleFeed, meanwhile, talked about innovations it has brought to RSS: ways to improve feed appearance to make feeds more marketable, RSS metrics for measuring feed readership, and the ability to offer secure feeds.

Ioutum announced a Web-based system to prioritize and route calls, promising to bring efficiency and productivity back to your day.

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